An opportunity to shine

Creating an inclusive workplace for youths with special educational needs 

At ISS, our goal is to help our employees feel valued, engaged and respected. Our inclusive culture means we focus on empowering people to contribute with their unique skills and perspectives. Find out how ISS Hong Kong is committed to nurturing the next generation of special needs youths through our SHINE@ISS programme. 


Fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace

Youths with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities experience great difficulty breaking into the workplace. In Hong Kong, only 35% of people with disabilities are employed – in comparison to 71% with those without a disability. The combination of social bias, negative employer attitudes and a lack of support means youths with SEN are often not given an equal opportunity to develop their skills and find meaningful employment. 

The SHINE@ISS programme represents a triple win for all parties involved. For young people with SEN, it offers independence and a full salary comparable to that of any other placemaker. ISS and our clients benefit as well, as these individuals bring significant value to the workplace. Additionally, the programme is a win for local communities and society at large, serving as a prime example of effective inclusion. 

The SHINE@ISS programme, developed in partnership with secondary schools and various NGOs in Hong Kong, provides vital training, career opportunities and mentoring for youths with SEN. It begins with a three-week pre-employment training period covering essential skills such as persistence, responsibility and communication, as well as skills like how to come to work, to take a bus or go to lunch with colleagues.  

The training is followed by on-the-job training and internal classroom sessions aligned with ISS’ core vision – Service with a Human Touch. Our trained on-site career mentors offer continual support, ensuring each participant’s growth and integration into the workforce. 

After one year on the SHINE@ISS programme, our placemakers will have gained practical work experience and on-the-job and soft skills training, QF courses and one-on-one mentoring. This leads to great improvements in interpersonal skills like self-efficacy, self-confidence, as well as responsibility for their own lives, also in a financial way. Through QF level 2 qualifications career opportunities open and bring long-term work perspective.  

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Sari Suono Rasehorn

Sari Suono-Rasehorn, Chief People and Culture Manager at ISS Hong Kong. 

"We maintain close relationships with the parents of our SHINE@ISS students. One of their greatest concerns is: 'How will my child manage life after I'm gone and we want to ensure them that learning basic everyday skills and having a job, will bring security and prepare their child to have better future.'"

She further shares a compelling testament: "The father of one of our graduates told me, You have returned two people to society. You have empowered my son to be independent, to earn a full salary and contribute to our family's income. You have also freed me to engage in charity work at my local church and support our community.'" Sari adds, "This might be the most significant impact we see on families through the programme - freeing up time for family members and enabling young people with SEN to actively participate in society." 

Here are some examples of young people who have been part of SHINE@ISS:

SHINE Hong Kong_Anja


Anja is an inspiring example of someone who has been in the programme as she is wheelchair-bound with a hearing impairment. She plays a vital role in processing quotations and assisting with payroll preparation for ISS Hong Kong. Through our in-house training, she has acquired expertise in property management and her performance has garnered praise from both supervisors and clients. Anja actively engages with colleagues and shares her experiences with trainees, enhancing the sense of community within our team.  

SHINE Hong Kong_Jason_1


We are proud to also recognise Jason, who joined ISS Hong Kong in 2021 through the SHINE@ISS programme. A graduate from a SEN school and previously engaged in the F&B industry and his family business, Jason now works at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His monthly catch-ups with the Hong Kong P&C team and social workers, along with on-the-job guidance, have empowered him to perform his tasks independently, contributing to his professional growth and personal fulfilment.  

Yui Kwan

Another success story from the SHINE@ISS programme is Yiu Kwan, a 19-year-old with autism who works as a cleaner at a Hong Kong public hospital. Yiu thrives in structured environments and his meticulous attention to detail has led to recognition and a promotion within a year of joining ISS. His story is a testament to the potential that can be realised when individuals are provided with appropriate support and opportunities.  

These stories highlight the transformative impact of the SHINE@ISS programme. They are a beacon of hope and a call to action for other employers to create similar opportunities, thus fostering an inclusive society where everyone has the chance to thrive and contribute their unique talents. At ISS, we believe that by creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, we unlock the potential in every individual, making the world work better for all. 

Social Sustainability Stories